Houston Rockets: A Look Back at the Kiss of Death

By Phillip Pyle

There are few times when a role player seizes an opportunity to make a long lasting impression on his team and city. That opportunity came for Mario Elie in 1995, during the Western Conference Semi-Finals. After the Houston Rockets had fought back from a 3-1 deficit, forcing a game 7, all that remained was a “Kiss of Death” to seal the deal.

Everybody expected Mario Elie to throw the ball to Hakeem Olajuwon, but Elie had a feeling he was going to be the one to kiss the Phoenix Suns goodbye. With the score tied at 110 late in Game 7 of the 1995 Western Conference Semifinals, Robert Horry spotted Elie across the floor in perfect position to get the ball to Olajuwon.

“Dream was wide-open, but I had my feet set. I let it go and it felt good,” Elie said.

Phoenix Suns guard Kevin Johnson had a career high 45 points and 10 dimes, and went 21-22 at the free throw line, that miss came with 20 seconds left and the score tied at 110. (ouch)

The sixth-seeded Rockets took out 4 impressive opponents on their way to the title, defeating the 3rd-seeded Utah Jazz, 2nd-seeded Phoenix Suns, top-seeded San Antonio Spurs and Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals.

Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, those who were not around in 1995 can look back at one of the most amazing moments in Rockets Playoff history. Skip ahead to the 2:00 minute mark, and sit back and enjoy the commentary from Bill Walton , and Steve “Snapper” Jones”. If you thought Reggie Miller, was annoying at color commentary, Bill Walton would like to change your opinion.